Articles | Volume 18, issue 3
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1043–1052, 2014
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1043–1052, 2014

Research article 17 Mar 2014

Research article | 17 Mar 2014

Re-suspension of bed sediment in a small stream – results from two flushing experiments

A. Eder1,2, M. Exner-Kittridge1, P. Strauss2, and G. Blöschl1,3 A. Eder et al.
  • 1Centre for Water Resource Systems, Vienna University of Technology, Karlsplatz 13, 1040 Vienna, Austria
  • 2Federal Agency for Water Management, Institute for Land and Water Management Research, Pollnbergstraße 1, 3252 Petzenkirchen, Austria
  • 3Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Karlsplatz 13/222, 1040 Vienna, Austria

Abstract. Streams draining small watersheds often exhibit multiple peaking sedigraphs associated with single peaking hydrographs. The process reasons of the multiple sediment peaks are not fully understood but they may be related to the activation of different sediment sources such as the stream bed itself, where deposited sediments from previous events may be available for resuspension. To understand resuspension of stream bed sediments at the reach scale we artificially flooded the small stream of the HOAL Petzenkirchen catchment in Austria by pumping sediment-free water into the stream. Two short floods were produced and flow, sediment and bromide concentrations were measured at three sites with high temporal resolution. Hydrologically, the two flood events were almost identical. The peak flows decreased from 57 to 7.9 L s−1 and the flow volumes decreased from 17 to 11.3 m2 along the 590 m reach of the stream. However, a considerably smaller sediment load was resuspended and transported during the second flood due to depletion of stream bed sediments. The exception was the middle section of the stream, where more sediment was transported during the second flood event which can be explained by differences between flow velocity and wave celerity and the resulting displacement of sediments within the stream. The results indicate that the first peak of the sedigraphs of natural events in this stream is indeed caused by the resuspension of stream bed sediments, accounting for up to six percent of the total sediment load depending on total flow volume.